Monday, October 13

An open letter to Sen. Obama

Dear Senator,

You lost my vote when you voted for the FISA bill. You said it was a bad bill. Senator Feinstein, who sits on the committee that oversees the wiretapping program and knows more than you about the consequences of this bill, said it was a bad bill. You voted for it anyway.

Which brings you into a direct clash with my values; when things are wrong, you don't let go of your principles even if you're going to lose. I know; You are in the game to win it. I know; your political opponents would hammered you on it. But they hammered you with Rev. Wright too, and you took a stand and treated us like adults and people stopped short and listened. On this bill, however, you voted for it, and then said it was a good compromise.

It wasn't. That was all I really needed to not vote for you. Your political career has been brief, your rhetoric not always backed up by consistent actions. This crucial moment came, and you let it pass.

People told me I shouldn't care, people told me that too much was at stake, that McCain was just going to further us into disaster. I felt I had principles here and I had to stick by them; retroactive pardoning of actions that violated the Fourth Amendment was not something I could stand for.

You still haven't convinced me to change my mind. You say you stand for change, but you don't articulate a strong vision. Healthcare, alternative energy, infrastructure both electronic and physical; these are big ideas we could be leaders in and are critical to our country's ability to be a good one, but you don't put it into a singular purpose as far as I'm concerned.

The smaller issues; homeland security, economic regulation, education, these things are bog points, and yes, you speak with great conviction on them but they don't convince me anymore. Solving these problems won't save us, because they are connected to larger ideas. Your job is to give this country a vision and then help us carry it out.

Worse, I am terrified that there will be no way to enforce the will of the people when you are elected. The ability to ignore the people in willful defiance of the disasters that he caused, has been one of the greatest tragedies of our current President. How can I be sure you will do what you say you will do?

I couldn't, so I couldn't vote for you.

You are fortunate, sir, that I am a reader. That I want to make sure I am doing the best I can, and in order to do that I try to absorb all the information possible that is available to me.

Esquire magazine published their endorsement issue recently. Perhaps you've seen it. You're no doubt aware of it, especially since they endorse you. They do a better job of describing things than I, both your strengths and weaknesses, why they think you're the man for this job. They evaluate McCain too, quietly but smartly evaluating why they think you should be President of the United States.

None of that convinced me. This did: Justice John Paul Stevens is eighty-nine years old, the editors of Esquire reminded me...

In January of 2009, if and when Barack Obama is inaugurated as the forty-fourth president of the United States, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens will be closing in on his thirty-fourth year on the Court and his eighty-ninth year on earth. And there, really, you have it. The best argument for the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States is written quite clearly in the peaks and squiggles of John Paul Stevens's EKG.


Just as, no matter how impressive John McCain could ever be, Sarah Palin should never, ever be allowed to be President, so must Justice Stevens be replaced by someone who truly believes in the Law of the Land.

So, Senator Obama, I will be voting for you in this election.

I do not like it. You have not earned my trust, you have not met any of my expectations. I am going to have to leave some of my principles behind in order to vote for you. In a very real way, I am doing what you did when you voted to pass the FISA bill, and I do not like that at all.

I am putting my country ahead of myself, however. That is not the greatest consolation for me. My country is made up of all those little choices that men and women like me make, most of us truly trying to make the place both good enough for themselves and a little better for the next group in whatever ways we can, and it lives and dies on our adherence to the qualities of honor that we maintain.

And my country has seen a great deal of dishonor in the past ten years. Dishonor that has come from the top and trickled down effecting everyone, so unlike the economic prosperity of a select few that liars would have us believe will buoy us all, leaving so many of us angry, frightened, and dispirited. I am very, very, very tired of it.

So I am going to put Americans ahead of my principles, the principles I believe that if people like me do not adhere to most days, will lead us to ruin, because the broad enforcement of the rule of law (not just through Justice Stevens, but through the other Federal judges I hope you will appoint) has to come before my strict adhesion to my belief that you do what is right, even if you are going to lose.

I am having to put my faith in you, that you will do what is right. That you will not utterly succumb to power and forget all that we have been through as a nation, but also remember that we are a nation of laws, and it is only through laws that are fair, honest, applying to all, that are in a word, just, that we will be able to address some of the wrongs that we have done. We have to right those wrongs Senator; those wrongs done to the world, those wrongs done to ourselves. It is our responsibility, because we had such a heavy hand in creating that mess.

I don't want to vote on my fears, fears of economic meltdown, fears of government intrusion both private and public into the lives of the American people, fears of tyranny in my own country. So I have to choose to vote on something else.

I am having to vote on faith, and I am asking you to justify that faith, as much as any human can.

Good luck Senator, and may we both find success in our efforts to make this a better world.

1 comment:

fuz said...

I'm not going to say that I'm glad you came to this decision. I am going to say that I'm relieved, because your logic was much the same as mine. I never though Obama was going to be the savior of mankind; I did think he was the more palatable of the two choices, in no small part because there are several justices on the Supreme Court that could retire any day now. Scalia (72) would be a blessing…but there's also Ruth Bader Ginsburg (75), and Anthony Kennedy (72). A couple more are right behind them.

Again: not the best choice, but one I trust not to fuck the Supreme Court up for the next thirty years.